The group was started by a few friends who met informally to organise a public meeting which took place in March 2003. It was well attended and a number of people volunteered to form a committee. Among the reasons for starting the group was the desire to bring people in the village together in a social setting and to use the Community Centre which at that time had very nearly been closed. We also wanted to try to give people more knowledge of the village and the surrounding area and we hoped that people would contribute their memories of the village and that a few people might do some research into aspects of the village from documents in various places.
The County Durham Foundation gave us a grant to help us to get started. The Group has grown in size and from an attendance of about twenty in the first few years we now have regular attendances of well over thirty.
One of the most significant things we have done was to copy all the parish magazines in the vestry of St Lawrence’s church and have them turned into a CD rom which is searchable on the computer. The CD also contains photos and copies of programmes and information about the village which were kindly given to us by various people. A copy of the CD was given to the village school, Hurworth school, the church, Darlington local studies library and Durham county record office. We would like to thank both Middleton St George and Dinsdale parish councils for their generous donations that made this project possible.
A small group of us spent some time clearing the burial ground at Sockburn ruined church, so that the graves were uncovered and could be read. This was acknowledged in the report published by English Heritage, after they had surveyed the scheduled ancient monument. So the History Group appears in print in the survey report. A very small group of us are now trying to keep the churchyard tidy and to plant some herbs and flowers in it. Any help with this would be much appreciated
We did not know when we started the group that Alan Pallister, who was born in the village and did excavations at the lost village of West Hartburn but moved away later, was doing a lot of research on the village and that he was writing a very scholarly book all about the village from earliest times until the late twentieth century. This was published a few years ago and is certainly the first book to look at for information on all aspects of the village.
We would very much welcome anyone who would like to do research on any aspect of village life, whether by talking to older village residents, looking at censuses, parish records, school records etc. If anyone would like to do that we would love to hear from you.